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From Robert Burrell Donkin <rdon...@apache.org>
Subject Re: Public domain artifacts distributed with Apache projects
Date Wed, 24 Oct 2007 21:16:12 GMT
On Wed, 2007-10-24 at 13:05 -0700, Henri Yandell wrote:
> On 10/24/07, Craig L Russell <Craig.Russell@sun.com> wrote:
> >
> > There are a few cases where my projects need to distribute artifacts
> > that have no embedded license and the associated comments are to the
> > effect of "This is public domain. Feel free to use it or not, but
> > don't bother me."
> >
> > It seems that we should have a policy for attributing these
> > contributions explicitly so there is no issue as to their provenance,
> > and especially in case someone shows up later claiming some IP for them.

ICLA (http://www.apache.org/licenses/icla.txt) section 7 means that
committers should have included a message in the commit log. it is
possible to track down provenance from commit messages (and asking the
right people) but it is difficult and time consuming.  

IMHO it would be better for projects to include machine-readable
provenance meta-data (RDF seems a good match for this) as part of their
source. this would allow anyone to easily understand the provenance of
all our arifacts.

(i have more complete analysis along these lines which i should tidy up
and blog one day soon)

> > And where would RAT look for a NOTICE for these files?
> It seems to me that this is not a question of licensing, but a
> question of incubating new code. If we take public domain and
> redistribute it, we can (do?) become the copyright holders and we
> would license it under AL 2.0 (by which the RAT question becomes
> unnecessary).

i'm not sure that the ASF can really become the copyright holders of the
original work. apache could relicense it under the AL2.0 but this seems
a little unnecessary. 

> We should mention in the NOTICE that said artifacts were originally
> public domain, but we wouldn't need a license file for it as it is
> covered by AL 2.0. 

noting that these are public domain (in the LICENSE or NOTICE) would
probably be good enough but relicensing under AL2.0 may be cleaner

> Instead we are talking about an implied software
> grant whereby we need to record something with the statement of public
> domain at the time we pull it into our repository.

AIUI this is not the case of software donation to apache (whether
implied or exlicit) but of third party documents under license (please
jump in and correct me if i'm wrong). IMHO apache needs to handle this
latter class of documents in a more sophisticated way including
recording explicit meta-data. 

(again, i have some analysis on this which needs tidying up and

- robert

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